No matter who you are or what you do, if you’re self-employed or own your own business, you absolutely must have a website. It’s totally and completely non-negotiable – but if you outsource the job, it can also be eye-wateringly expensive. Fortunately, site-builders like Squarespace make it easier than ever to build your own – and I’m here to help you get it right.
Your website has one primary purpose: it’s there to convince potential clients that they shouldn’t look any further than you for their photography needs. Your Instagram feed, your Pinterest pins, your Twitter, and so on and so forth, should all just be the delicious breadcrumbs that lead your customer back to your website – and, ultimately, to a sale.
Basically, a great website is the machine that converts punters into profit. Done well, it’ll work for you 24/7, promoting your work – and your charms! – and filling your diary. But first, you need to make sure you’ve got the right stuff on it. Here are the seven essentials your photography website NEEDS to succeed…
You’ve heard me say it before, and you’ll hear it again now: Keep It Simple, Sweetie! Once you’ve written the copy for your pages, take a step away from them and read them as though you’re a potential client.
Is it straightforward, easy to understand, and quick to read? Or is it a bit, well, loud? By that I mean, is there so much information that you feel a bit overwhelmed trying to absorb it all? Or is the wording aggressive and a bit too pushy? Remember, the people reading it won’t have any background knowledge on your or your business. And right now? They don’t need it!
If you Google some of the world’s most famous photographers, you’ll end up on very simple, stark websites – there’s not a lot of textual information, and probably not a lot of design trickery, either. Instead, their sites are aimed at showcasing a selection of images as best as possible. It’s a bit like entering a gallery.
At its core, that’s what you need: your photography website is your personal gallery, and you need to let your gorgeous images speak for themselves. Yes, you can add backpages with a short bio, and information about your packages. But let your clients navigate to them when they’re ready, and keep the front page simple, beautiful, and effective.
First impressions are crucial, and these days, your website is your representative. In fact, your web presence is the first chance your client will have to ‘meet’ you – and if they don’t like your vibe then, it could be the last.
Think about it like this: before the internet took over our lives, equestrian photographers would have spent much of their time on the road, at photography shows and exhibitions, at horse shows, and popping to local yards, meeting people face-to-face and handing out brochures.
If you had to do that now, how would you go about it? Well, you probably wouldn’t put on a fake voice and adopt someone else’s mannerisms, that’s for sure – it would feel weird, and smarmy, and you wouldn’t be able to maintain it.
So why do so many people hide behind turns of phrase and flowery wording that just doesn’t sound like them? Lack of confidence is probably one of the big culprits, particularly if you don’t think of yourself as much of a writer. But here’s an idea: instead of writing your web copy down straight away, turn on sound recording on your phone, and try describing yourself and your business out loud.
Okay, so you might feel a bit silly at first, but the very best and most inviting writing is the writing that sounds like you. It’s the stuff your best friends could read and actually hear your voice in their heads. It’s chatty, and it’s natural, and it’s like sitting down with you for a cuppa and a catch-up.
Another great exercise to try is to write an email to a close friend or family member, describing your business as though they don’t know anything about it. Explain why it’s great, and what you have planned, and why you’re excited about it. You don’t need to send it – just save it and look at it the next day. I guarantee you’ll find some sentences and phrases that work wonderfully on your website.
It should go without saying, but all the images on your website need to be your own – except the image on your About Me page, which can be taken by someone else, but needs to be of you! Photoshoots are so personal, and your clients aren’t just booking a product – they’re signing up for an experience. Letting them get to know you will convince them it’ll be a great one.
Writing might not be your ‘thing’ – and hey, that’s totally fine! You’re a photographer, not J.K. Rowling, and no one expects you to be amazing at everything. Yes, it can be intimidating writing copy for your webpage – but honestly? No one will scrutinise your writing as much as you do yourself.
Okay, real talk time? They will notice bad spelling, poor grammar, and broken links. But those are three issues that are so easy to tackle – use a spell-checker, ask a particularly literary friend to give it a once-over, and always, always triple-check your links. When it comes to engaging copy, though? Good is good enough.
There’s no magic combination of words that converts leads into customers. There’s not a certain ‘level’ of writing competency that’s going to make a sale. Ultimately, the bottom line is your images – you just need to be your likeable self and get the job done with the copy. Perfection is overrated.
This is so, so important – and it’s going to save you a tonne of time, too! I’ve spoken about this phenomenon before, but it’s well worth repeating. Basically, when faced with multiple options, people will always subconsciously look for a reason NOT to choose something.
For example: you’re looking at a selection of hotels for an upcoming holiday. One of them is well within your budget, has a view of the beach, and the rooms are beautiful and airy. The only issue? You’ll have to pay an extra daily charge for breakfast and wifi. Are you going to commit? Not likely – you might keep the tab open, but you’re going to keep scrolling, right?
It’s exactly the same when people shop for a photographer. All it takes is one image that they don’t like, and they’ll move onto a different website. Seems a bit harsh, right? Most people don’t even realise they’re doing it – but if you know, then you can game the system.
Picking 10-20 images for your website is a savvy move for a few reasons. First, it keeps the overall impression clean and uncluttered. Second, it forces you to objectively pick out the very best work you’ve done. Third, it gives a potential client a much smaller chance of seeing something they don’t like.
Need some inspiration? Go through your images as though you’re putting a selection together for an enormous, one-million-pound photography prize. Which photos are you the most proud of? Display them loud and proud and let them represent the wonderful work you do.
Ready for some short and sweet information? Of course you are! I mentioned this in point three, but actually, it’s so important that I’m going to mention it again as its own point. Go check the links on your page. Every last one of them. Right now!
There is nothing more off-putting than finding a beautifully put-together site, which appears to offer everything you want in a photographer – only to click through to the booking form and wind up at a dead-end. Unfortunately, most people won’t search for another way to get in touch – they’ll just move on.
Make it seriously easy to book you by making sure every single link on your website leads where it’s meant to, and make your booking information and price list really easy to find from every single page. People are fickle – so don’t give them any excuses.
Following on from the last point, your contact information needs to be super easy to find. You can – and should – have a contact page linked in your navigation bar, but it’s also incredibly helpful to put your phone number and email address in your footer, too, so it appears on every page. Catch them at the very moment they decide they love your work, and they’ll be yours.
I mean, not as a career choice, unless that’s what you’re really into. But blogging is free to do and can make such a huge difference to your online presence. Not only does it give your clients the opportunity to get to know you, it also drives new leads back to your webpage from social media sites like Pinterest.
Plan to blog at least once a week, although you don’t have to write the pieces every week – just as you can schedule social media posts, you can write a bunch of blogs in one go and then plan to publish them each Saturday, for example.
You can write about anything and everything on your blog – that’s the beauty of it! Write about something that’s inspired you, or a funny moment from a recent shoot, or somewhere beautiful you went with your camera. Write about your dream photoshoot, your favourite competition to snap at, your biggest editing revelation. The more you write, the more inspired you’ll be!
Armed with inspiration? I hope so! I’d love to see your website – and I’m always on the hunt for a great new blog to read! – so drop your links in the comments and share your hard work!